Chronometer VS Chronograph Watch: What’s The Difference?

In full transparency, being an Amazon Associate we may collect a small commission (at no cost to you!) when you click on some of the links in this post and make a purchase. These funds allow us to maintain the site and continue to write great articles for you.

Were you searching for a perfect watch for yourself and came across the terms Chronometer and Chronograph but do not know whether they mean the same thing or not? Do not worry, you are at the right place. In this article, I tell you in detail about the difference between Chronometer and Chronograph, and also if they mean the same or not.

Buying a watch can be a very easy task if you know about your need and more importantly about the horological terminologies. But it becomes very challenging and confusing if you don’t exactly know about the terminologies. And one such example of confusing terminologies is Chronograph and Chronometer. People who do not know their exact meanings tend to use them interchangeably.

So let us start with the article and put this confusion to rest.

Quick Navigation:

Chronograph VS Chronometer

First of all, let me tell you that Chronograph and Chronometer do not mean the same thing. In very simple terms, a chronograph is related to the features of a watch but the chronometer is related to the mechanism and precision of the watch.

Now let us have a detailed look at the two terminologies one by one.


Chronograph watch

Chronograph, as we discussed earlier, is a feature of a watch that lets you measure a short amount of time. In simple words, it is basically a stopwatch embedded into your watch and in horological terms, it is a complication.

You can easily identify if the watch has a chronograph or not by looking at it. If a timepiece has a chronograph feature then there will be either 2 or 3 subdials in the main dial. The 3 subdials of the chronograph represent the elapsed hours, minutes, and seconds. For more accuracy, a chronograph watch may feature sub-dials that can track 1/10th or even 1/100th of a second.

Sometimes there are only 2 subdials that represent the elapsed hours and minutes, and the elapsed seconds are represented by the central second’s hand.

There are also extra buttons to control the chronograph and they can be either 1 or 2 in number. They are generally placed below and above the crown. The upper one usually starts the chronograph and the lower one stops it. If there is only one extra button then it will both start and stop the chronograph.

Therefore, if you see subdials and extra buttons in a watch then rest assured that it has the chronograph function.

Now let us look at the Chronometer.


chronometer vs chronograph

Chronometer is related to the precision and accuracy of the watch and it has nothing to do with the features and functions.

Do you know that every watch in the world loses some time every day? Yes! even the most accurate and expensive watch with Swiss automatic movement loses time too. That is why every watchmaker is so obsessed with precision. But how do we find out which watch has higher precision and accuracy?

To help you with this there is a Swiss-based independent official organization that tests the watches for their accuracy and precision. The name of the organization is COSC (Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres) and it tests the timepieces for different parameters for 15 days straight in different environments and conditions.

These parameters include average daily rate, the greatest variation in rates, variation of rate in a horizontal and vertical position, variation of rate depending on the temperature, mean variation, etc. And the overall variation in time of a watch should be strictly between -4 to +6 seconds per day to get qualified as a chronometer.

When a timepiece passes all these series of tests then and only then a watch is certified as a chronometer. And the manufacturer is allowed to mention this on the dial. So, if you see a chronometer written on the dial of the watch then it means it has passed all the intense tests done by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute. Therefore its precision and accuracy are very high.

So if you want a watch that shows you the precise time then you should look for a certified chronometer watch.

Can A Watch With Chronograph Be A Chronometer?

Yes! A watch that has the chronograph feature can be a chronometer. As we discussed earlier chronometer is related to the precision and accuracy of the watch and the extra features and functions (like Chronograph) do not affect that.

However, you will not find many options where a chronometer watch also has a chronograph. According to a study, only 3% of the watches made annually get certified as chronometers, and even a lesser percentage of these watches would be having a chronograph. So you will not find many options and the ones that you do will obviously carry a high price tag.


What Is A Chronometer Watch Used For?

A chronometer watch is used to keep time with high precision and accuracy.

How Accurate Is A Chronometer?

A certified chronometer watch loses time between -4 and +6 seconds per day.

Why Is A Watch Called Chronograph?

A watch is called a chronograph when it can measure the short elapsed time.

What Are 3 Sub-dials On A Watch?

A chronograph watch has 3 subdials to measure the elapsed time in hours, minutes, and seconds.

Are Chronometer Watches Better?

Yes! Chronometer watches keep time with greater accuracy and precision than a normal watch.

Tom Nielson

Tom's love for watches started when his grandfather gifted him his Rolex watch when he turned 18! Being a teenager it was a big deal for him. Later when he got his first job he bought Fossil Palm Pilot back in 2003 which was a smartwatch. Since then smartwatches have come a long way and so is Tom's love for them. His experience with watches inspired him to start Wearholic and share his knowledge of wearables including watches, smartwatches, smart glasses, & smart clothing.

Leave a Comment